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IR Film Review: AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON [Marvel/Disney]

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The Marvel Universe has finally comes to its “Thunderbird” point. The great thing with a franchise now this size is that with all the mythology you can go into something really comic specific and people will likely go with you. There is a lot of that here. There are still a lot of battles and the roof raising finale works its best. However it becomes too disjointed to really to create a caring requisite for the rest of the team. Like the second part of “The Hobbit”, it is the romantic subplot that best fuels the tension and plot direction. In “The Hobbit”, the relationship between a female Elf and a male dwarf really brought the story together. The only thing that could light a candle to them literally was Smaug. Here the same thing is true of Black Widow and Hulk. Though some might perceive Widow’ strengths as an assassin and thereby recognize shortcomings in other parts of her life, she does seem to have the most dynamic range of all the Avengers. Hawkeye is the most grounded but not as engaging. Banner versus Hulk seems so bi-polar but that might point to the problem in trying to base a whole movie around him. It is hard for an audience to give him complete empathy. Even Tony Stark has more to speak of here in terms of that connection.

 

Some of resolutions and even the new characters have their highlight. Casting Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor Johnson as brother and sister (Scarlett Witch and Quicksilver) is an interesting progression after they played husband and wife recently in “Godzilla”. Ultron, as manipulated in motion capture by James Spader, gives an undeniable sophistication though the stakes never truly lock in. Paul Bettany is interesting as The Vision especially in his philosophical perspective of the human race in relating to Ultron. And finally watching Andy Serkis is his brief cameo as “Claw” shows his chameleon-like status in live action. He is fantastic doing motion capture and was a consultant here but people should give him more live action possibilities because he can disappear just as easily. “Age Of Ultron” completes its dues adequately but seems to be setting up future story lines instead of focusing on the ones right in front of them. As long as it keeps audiences engaged it shouldn’t affect the bottom line but this kind of disjointed storytelling sometimes overwhelms the attention. It hasn’t quite yet but it is on the cusp.

B

I Love You Man – Blu Ray Review

ilym-brThe necessity of “I Love You Man”, which I did not see during its theatrical run, is that it takes an uncomfortable subject and literally makes it more uncomfortable. Now this is done in no way in part to the presence of Paul Rudd, who has become the unlikely anti-hero of the Judd Apatow sect. Now granted Seth Rogen has the underdog situation down pat but he has a brother-in-arms in the form of Jason Segel who takes on a much more engaging role than his feature starring debut in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”. The essence of the story revolves around the fact that Rudd’s character is getting married to a girl whom he seems good with but the odd thing is that he doesn’t have any guy friends. He has always related more to women. Now while usually when this happens, it simply speaks to a simple emotional situation of being only able to relate to one person at a time (the ability not to multi-task if you will), here it is played for laughs in the texture that Rudd’s character goes on “Man Dates” to find some guy friends.

All sorts of shenanigans ensue (including many involving Lou Ferrigno) but ultimately things work out nice and soft after much carnage including lewd billboards of Rudd’s real estate character. The comedy is brisk but is never as funny as it thinks it is. The girls in “Spring Breakdown” (in terms of a recent comparison) went much more out on a limb. But the key here is that the filmmakers are also trying to appeal to a female audience which this picture definitely admits to.

The commentary by Rudd, Segel and director John Hamburg is self reflexive in its ability even pointing to the fact that Rudd gave everyone gifts on set but Segel didn’t give him one back until months later. It was a good one though: a signed bass from rock band Rush who figures prominently into the movie’s storyline. As the commentary continues, the aspect of what their humor is actually becomes self effacing which at times sort of throws off the aspect of whether the comedy elements are thought out or even funny in the first place. The aspect of not being able to stop laughing when shooting does happen as the extra improvs later in the disc show. This team however seem to have played these element out to the point of beating a dead horse. However they seem to understand that the movie that they are making needs to be loose but still have its heart focused.

“The Making Of I Love You Man” paints in this direction as well. The self effacing humor plays through everyone, even J.K. Simmons who gets into a little bashing. Jon Favreau is the best because he is playing Mr. Big Shot which is not him in person truly. His fellow actors play up the whole “Iron Man” thing but Fav still plays his angle. In the Extras section with all the improv, it is actually his and Jamie Pressly’s pieces that are fun to watch because they are so cruel. He outpowers her to a point at which she just goes quiet and almost starts laughing. It is interesting.

Paul Rudd’s two improv heavy scenes: on the phone in the office and in bed with his fiance show the amount of different permeations the guy goes through when the thinking is steady. But it is the Vespa riding sequence, especially with the “Facts Of Life” theme song, that goes a little long. In terms of extended and deleted scenes, the “ladies night” piece gets in a tad more with how graphic the girls get but by comparison the Johnny Depp elements at the wedding go on way too long. The deleted scenes don’t really add anything to the mix although the groomsmen photos are amusing. However it slows down the story.

The red band trailer adds some bits and lets the “fucks” fly but it is Jon Favreau’s last line that isn’t in the movie that has the most punch. The gag reel is usually used for the wrap party and highlights the fact that Paul Rudd finds himself funny sometimes more than anyone else and likes to laugh although the rubbing scene in Segel’s apartment set is a little much. But that is the movie through and through. Out of 5, I give it a 2 1/2.

FIRST LOOK: Sherlock Holmes – WB

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As part of its Fall 2009 Fall Preview Package, Warner Bros. just provided IR with this shot from “Sherlock Holmes”, an action retelling of the adventures of the famous sleuth starring Robert Downey Jr. (“Iron Man”), Jude Law (“Road To Perdition”) and Rachel McAdams (“The Notebook”). The film is directed by Guy Ritchie (“Snatch”) and produced by Joel Silver (“The Matrix”) under his Silver Pictures banner.

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